Where is this Wednesday?

The Florida State Parks have been posting a picture each Wednesday accompanied by the question, where is this?

Each picture is from one of the state’s award winning parks and it’s fun to see if you can identify the location, or if not, claim the park as one you’ve visited.

So “Where is this?”

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Hint: It is one of Florida’s State Parks.

10 Down; 5 To Go

With more than three months left in 2015, we met our goal of visiting 15 lighthouses. On a single day earlier this month, we went to St. Augustine, lighthouse number 14 and Ponce Inlet, lighthouse number 15.

We started the day with a bike ride on the beach at Anastasia Island State Park and took a couple of long distance pictures.

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Then we biked over to the St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum to get up close views of the lighthouse we’d seen from the beach.

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What’s a trip to St. Augustine without a meal at the Columbia Restaurant? After a delicious lunch, we were ready to begin the next leg of the day’s journey.

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Our drive down A1A ended at Florida’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet. No, we didn’t climb the 203 steps to the top of the lighthouse. It was after 4:00 by the time we arrived and the storm clouds made it unlikely we’d have a chance to get to the top before the lightning put an end to the day’s tours.

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In just over a week, we met the goal by visiting the oldest lighthouse in the state, the Amelia Island Lighthouse, the one lighting Florida’s oldest port at St. Augustine, and the state’s tallest lighthouse located at Ponce Inlet – quite a historic week.

Now that we’ve completed this challenge and visited four lighthouses in Florida (Anclote Key earlier this summer), we should shoot for 15 Florida lighthouses in 2015. We better get busy!

Don’t Forget to Live in the Moment

This is a first! I didn’t write today’s Mom’s Monday Memo. In fact, it could be called Dad’s Daily Dissertation since it was written by Dad. Thanks for the reminder, John.

Sitting here watching the golf match, I am sensing a level of anxiety. A tightness in the pit of my stomach. Is it due to the fact that tomorrow is the first day of school? Is it nerves for my former colleagues? Is it the annual nervousness I experienced at the start of a new year? Or is the tension caused by something else?

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On a Sunday in August or early September for 52 years I have experienced a nervousness at the start of the school year. Will my friends be in my class? Will the teacher like me? What struggles will I face? As a teacher, I was anxious to meet my new family away from home. For 180 days I would work and share experiences with these students and teachers. As a principal, I was concerned about student success and behavior, parent opinions, transportation, teacher performance, and the list goes on. But I do not think the start of the school year is the source of my anxiety.
I started reflecting on this summer and became exhausted. It started with moving from our house of over 25 years and re-establishing a home in Ocklawaha. This was quickly followed by retirement and all the celebrations and good-byes. We boarded a plane to Omaha in early June to fulfill a lifelong dream of attending the College World Series. We were home for less than two weeks when we were off again to visit the Northwest and celebrate a reunion with high school friends. Then Dee recovered from mystery hives.

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The summer has been filled with bike rides, fishing, church volunteering, Meals on Wheels, boating and purchasing a new car. Family obligations have been met with our annual Family Weekend and supporting a mother-in-law experiencing surgery.

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In a day we will be off to Miami to take advantage of a good hotel deal. We are busy planning a fall camping trip to the panhandle, assisting a friend with her daughter’s wedding, and weighing options of a trip to Europe. Then it dawned on me, I am exhausted
Do not think I am complaining. I have never been happier. I feel blessed with a wonderful marriage and a healthy wife to join me on adventures. We celebrate our three married, employed, successful daughters and their husbands. I think the catalyst of my anxiousness is a desire to experience everything now and plan the next episode rather the than enjoying the moment placed in front of me. I do not want to miss out on all that I want to experience.

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As I considered my state of mind I realized how silly I was becoming. As a new school year looms before us, I wish my colleagues all the success and patience they deserve. I know the feeling you are experiencing today. I plan to learn how to enjoy the moment and make the most of the time. I look forward to September as a time that I can develop a new rhythm of life that is a balance of adventure and reflection. Developing a new routine is a priority. I am learning that moment you are experiencing is the most important time of your life.

Make plans, but don’t forget to live in the moment.

Love,

Dad

Potatoes Please

Another food to celebrate. This time it’s potatoes. That’s right. This Wednesday is Potato Day. Time to add some yummy potato dishes to the recipe box.

Instead of French Fries, why not try this baked substitute: Baked Garlic Parmesan Wedges

Potato Skins are always a tasty treat, but what do you do with all the potato that gets wasted? Maybe these potato rounds are the answer: Easy Potato Skins

 

If calories are no problem, you might want to try this homemade version of a local restaurant’s Potato Mountain Melt: Cheesy Ranch Potatoes

My family LOVES mashed potatoes so I’m sure they’d appreciate: Loaded Mashed Potato Casserole

Roasted potatoes are pretty standard fare, but lemon herb? That’s a new twist: Lemon Herb Roasted Potatoes

Leftover mashed potatoes? Never at my house, but these look yummy enough to make as a side dish even if you have to start from scratch instead of with leftovers…or better yet, could you use Simply Potatoes® or some other refrigerated mashed potato? Mashed Potato Puffs

Another plan for those non-existent leftover mashed potatoes: Cheesy Mashed Potato Waffles

Or maybe a healthier sweet potato treat would be a better way to celebrate: Baked Sweet Potato Chips

Do you have a favorite potato recipe? I’d love to add it to my collection.

Preparing for a New School Year

For the first time since 1963 I did not spend the week before the beginning of the school year busily preparing for learning or teaching. I’ve either been a student, the parent of a student, a teacher or some combination of these roles for the past 50 plus years. This has traditionally been a week of shopping, organizing, and planning for a successful school year.

While I’m not preparing for school, I realized that I participated in many activities that were similar to those that would have occupied the pre-school week of the past.

Monday: The first day of the pre-school routine was intentionally very different from years past. As a celebration of the break in tradition, we packed a lunch and enjoyed a picnic from the middle of the lake. Instead of sleep being interrupted by a mind filled with lists of things to do, sleep was interrupted by the uncomfortable feeling of sunburn.

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Tuesday: Day 2 of pre-school started very different as John brought the catch of the day in to be cleaned before breakfast, but the afternoon was spent shopping, an activity not unusual for this week. However, instead of pens, pencils, notebooks and clothes for the upcoming school year, bathing suits and fishing lures filled our bags on this day.

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Wednesday: This day’s events actually were very similar to the way I spent time opening up a new school year. The day began at the library, but instead of loading up on books to accompany curriculum, I filled the reading list for an upcoming trip. Then off to Gainesville to the Repurpose Store looking for treasures from others’ trash. I guess some things will never change. And finally, a stop at Satchel’s Pizza where I investigated the “new technology” and toured a bus.

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Thursday: Alarm set for 5:30, the usual time for a day of work. Donuts from Tas-T-O, usually a requirement by the fourth day of pre-school. Then six hours of sitting around, but instead of sitting in boring meetings, I sat in various waiting rooms at Munroe Regional with my Mom and Dad while my Mom underwent a medical procedure. All went well with the procedure so we all left in good spirits, not always the case after attending a day of educational inservice training.

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Friday: Instead of meeting students and their parents, I met bloodsucking mosquitoes and other insects while riding my bike on the Cross Florida Barge Canal. Then the afternoon was spent researching and making plans…not for lessons to be taught, but for more adventures in the coming months.

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I can honestly say I didn’t miss any of the usual back to school activities, but it’s nice to know they prepared me well for this new adventure called retirement.

 

 

Lunch at the Seafood Market

Before we could check into the house we rented on Ft. George Island for Family Weekend, we launched the boat and set out to find a restaurant on the water. Since the house was located just across the river from Mayport, we knew there were several restaurants located along the docks where the fishing boats returned with their daily catches. What we didn’t know was that there was a seafood market that also served the fresh fish to diners overlooking the docks.

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According to Yelp, Safe Harbor Seafood Market was the place to go for good seafood, so with the help of Google Maps we located Safe Harbor and indeed, it was a true seafood market. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of pounds of fish, crabs, shrimp and even squid filled the icy display cases.

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We ordered at the counter, took our number to the table and in a matter of minutes, the server delivered some of the most delicious seafood I’ve ever tasted. Shrimp, grouper, fries, slaw, and amazing hush puppies…what a great way to start the weekend.

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No boat? No problem. Safe Harbor Seafood Market can be accessed by car, just down from the St. John’s River Ferry on Ocean Street in Mayport. This is a must visit place the next time you’re in Jacksonville.

 

TBT Lesson #63

Summer just wouldn’t be the same without a trip to the beach. In fact, I can’t think of a summer when we haven’t carved out some beach time. This picture of the girls on the beach was taken during one of many vacations in Sanibel.

This year, the month of August started in Jacksonville with some time on the beach, and then last Friday we took a day trip to the beach visiting St. Augustine in the morning and Ponce Inlet in the afternoon. And later this month we’ll spend a few more days on the beach.

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TBT Lesson #63: It isn’t summer without a trip to the beach.

Arts are Alive in Fernandina Beach

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Twenty hand-painted poles decorate the alley just off Centre Street, the main drag, in Fernandina Beach.

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Painted poles represent the art and music community

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as well as the fish, sea turtles, shrimp, pelicans and other creatures found in the area.

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Several of the poles illustrate the history of Nassau County

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and others celebrate reading and writing.

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Even the area’s lighthouse adorns one of the poles.

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This project, located in the the historic downtown riverfront, was the first test of the city’s new “Art in Public Places Ordinance”. Unbelievable…an ordinance encouraging public art? Wonder what the next project will be.

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9 Down; 6 To Go

Family Weekend is an event that’s added to our list of “to do’s” each year. In the past we’ve always met at the lake for this event, but since that is now home, it seemed like a good idea to take Family Weekend on the road.

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This year our designated first weekend in August also coincided with Sarah’s graduation from the University of North Florida where she received her Masters in Health Administration, so it was only natural to look for a location near Jacksonville for this year’s get-together.

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We spent the weekend in a five bedroom house on the St. John’s River less than 30 minutes from the UNF campus. A place where we could swim

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go boating

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play games

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go to the beach

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relax and enjoy one another.

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It was also a great location to observe the blue moon and watch the ships moving in and out of the port in Jacksonville.

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I think we’ve forever modified our plans for Family Weekend. This will be a good excuse to find new places to visit for our yearly reunion.

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Take a Daycation

It’s easy to get caught up in the ordinariness of life and get stuck in routines. Work. Household chores. Lawn care. Errands. An endless list of “to do’s”. But it’s important to make time for fun.

One of my favorite ways to do this is by planning and taking Daycations. These daycations require only a single day, little planning or expense and always begin and end by waking up in my own bed and returning to sleep at home.

Here’s a list of some of my favorite ways to spend a daycation.

Visit one of Florida’s State Parks.

 

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Rent bicycles or take your own and ride one of the wonderful bike trails located in the state.

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Kayak, canoe or float down a river. You can find lots of information about paddling trail from the Florida Paddling Trails Association.

Attend a festival or other special event. Festivals celebrating art, music, food and history take place every week and are good opportunities to get out, walk around and enjoy some fun. You may even want to partake in an offbeat event like a Possum Festival or Grape Stomp. Here’s a great list of Florida Festivals and Events to give you some ideas. Search by month or location to find something close to home.

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Go for a swim. Beaches on the Atlantic and Gulf, springs, and lakes are perfect places to spend a day.

 

There are so many opportunities to make any day a one day vacation. Less than 24 hours…less than $100…including gas and meals. These daycations rejuvinate without the stress or expense of planning a vacation.

Plan a getaway. Take a daycation.

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Mom